Posts tagged ‘meaning’
I don’t believe in an afterlife, so every second of my time on earth is precious. The years remaining in my life provide the only chance I will have to fulfill my potential and make a difference. The people I love are to be cherished in the here and now for there will be no reunions in another realm. The suffering and pain on earth must be alleviated today because there is no happy ever after in the sky. Beauty is to be admired and appreciated now because tomorrow it will fade away. I must make meaning in life every day, because there is no-one providing a purpose for me to fulfill.
When I was a Christian, I wanted to believe that God endowed the universe with purpose and my personal life with meaning. I spent time every day reading the Bible to discover God’s purpose in the universe. I spent time praying every day to discover God’s will for my individual life. I was not alone in my search. Similar beliefs were held by most people for much of history and went largely unchallenged until nineteenth century philosophers began to consider the possibility that the universe and human life had no built-in meaning. For centuries science had been moving humanity further away from its prized position at the center of the universe.
After Galileo discovered that the Earth is not the center of the Solar System and Darwin revealed that humans had evolved from earlier primate ancestors, it was no longer possible to consider that humanity deserved any special place of honor…
I’ve enjoyed reading through the comments on Karen’s recent post “Are de-converts doomed to live in the pit of existentialist despair?” I do appreciate everyone’s thoughts on this topic.
Discovering the meaning of life was my biggest, baddest bugaboo upon de-conversion. Life seemed drained of color without God. It was more than just no longer having a sweeping trans-historical drama in which to play a part. It was, for me, that the universe no longer seemed like a home. It was no longer warm and friendly. Instead, it was harsh, alien, bare, and empty. Working through meaning was my biggest challenge.
Here’s how it went for me. Christianity teaches, in essence, that all the sorrows of life are destined to end. All the “existential givens” such as loneliness and isolation, the responsibility to create one’s own life, the thirst for larger meaning and purpose, even death itself — all these problems are solved, for the Christian. C.S. Lewis quite explicitly teaches that all you have ever desired is destined for ultimate satisfaction in heaven. You will not die. You will not be alone. Your responsibility is only to obey. Your meaning is given to you.
Losing God for me was like that moment in all of our lives when we realize, really realize, that our parents are not really larger than life…